Entries Tagged as 'Trending'

It Never Goes Away: Sexting Outlets Lack Security

10.21.2015

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By Logan Schlossberg

Ashlee, a student at the University of Kansas, was sending a nude photo of her entire body via Snapchat to her boyfriend while he was out of town. She accidentally put the photo on her “Snapchat Story” which is a public photo and video collage that disappears in 24 hours. The photo was up for about 15 minutes until she realized her mistake and deleted it.

“I was mortified to say the least,” she says.

According to a study by the University of Rhode Island, almost all college students are sexting.

“I don’t think sending nude photos is a new phenomena but the technology we have today makes this ability easier and unfortunately some of the technology can give you a delusion of safety,” says Jonathan Peters, journalism professor at KU. “You just aren’t as safe as you think you are.”

When a nude photo is sent through Snapchat or even an iMessage/SMS text message, that photo is archived somewhere. According to Peters, with Snapchat it is saved on a server, and through text messages it is saved somewhere within your phone carrier. So when you think your photo disappears on Snapchat, it really does not.

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“I think it’s really common for a college kid to think their risqué picture is actually disappearing when they send it to someone on Snapchat,” says Theresa Murphy, a senior from Kansas City. “This is why I don’t send nude pictures. It seems too risky.”

Cell phones are not the only technological devices to worry about when it comes to nude pictures. Cyber security is not as secure as one might think. Now that we have things like iCloud and Dropbox, nude photos can be saved into hard drives on computers that people do not even know about.

“Say you took a nude video or photo on your MacBookPro and you want to delete it off of your computer,” Peters says. “That video still exists on your hard drive even when you drag it to ‘trash’ and then click ‘clear trash’. When you delete, the file itself doesn’t go away until you overwrite that same file up to 30 to 40 times with a different file.”

With safety issues in the technological aspect of sexting, experts find that, in terms of sexual health, there is no correlation between risky sexual behavior and sexting. It can, however, become a problem if your nude photos are leaked. This is where getting a job could become harder if potential employers see or find out about the photos.

Even issues with mental health can come into play.

Taking a photo for yourself or for your partner is done intentionally, with you setting the parameters for how that photo or photos are going to be used,” Jenny McKee, health educator at the University of Kansas, says.  “When those photos are in the wrong hands, it can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.  It can also cause a great deal of shame and self-blame.”

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Bottom line: college students probably aren’t going to stop sexting. If you choose to do so, consider the following:
-Do not put your face in the photo
-Omit added features on your body like tattoos or piercings
-Do not take the photo with a background that is recognizable
-Make sure you are sending the photo to the correct person

Photos by Abby Liudahl

Heard on the Hill

9.08.2015

Our SOTH spies are back, bringing you the funniest, weirdest, and always out of context quotes heard on campus and around Lawrence. If you’ve got a quip to add to our list, send us a note at styleonthehill@gmail.com.

HOTH 2

  • Person 1: “Ugh. Someone sent me an email in Comic Sans.”
    Person 2: “Why would someone do that?”
    Person 1: “Because they hate me.”
  • Girl 1: Do you get Starbucks every morning?
    Girl 2: Yeah?
    Girl 1: I commend you girl. If I did that I would be broke as a joke and fat as fuck!
  • “Jayhawk Boulevard… that’s the street with Target at the end right?”
  • “I’m feeling pretty good today. I don’t think I’ll do any drugs tonight!”
  • Girl: “I’m sorry, you were where?”
    Guy: “I said I went to a post-apocalyptic theatrical metal concert last night.”
  • Girl: “I watched The Purge a couple nights ago and now I’m convinced there is someone crawling outside my window at night, should I call the cops?”
  • Guy: “Yeah I’m totally voting for Kanye, but only because I want Kim Kardashian as our First Lady.”
  • Teacher: “Is the noise from outside the window too noisy for you guys or..?”
    Student: “It makes it sound spooky.”
  • Girl to a friend: “Dude, I totally knew you would be on this bus. You wouldn’t want to walk the extra stretch to Ellsworth from the 43 red stop.”
  • “Have you been to The Cave?! It was the SICKEST place I’ve ever partied at…”

 

Vaping: Healthy or Habit-forming?

4.30.2015

By Ashleigh Lee

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I am at the Granada and I can barely see anything through the foggy air. A few lights at the bar illuminate the smoke clouds that begin to rise. A group of under-aged kids stand next to me, the “X’s” drawn deeply on the back of their hands with a black marker. Another cloud of smoke surrounds us but it’s not smoke; it’s vapor from an e-cigarette.

My introduction to the vaping community comes from my brother. He won’t tell me if he smokes cigarettes, but he openly vapes around our family and me. He will do it in the car or while walking on the street. I began to wonder if he did it to quit smoking or if he wanted to do it because it was the popular thing to do. This sparked my curiosity about the culture that surrounds vaping and e-cigarette culture. Last summer I took a research assistant position with Dr. Yvonnes Chen of the journalism school monitoring the tobacco marketing on American Indian Reservations. As our research continued we decided to branch out and study e-cigarette use.

According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 42.1 million adults are smoking cigarettes in the United States. That’s nearly 19 of 100 adults 18-24 year olds. But since the FDA does not regulate e-cigarettes, there is little information about who is using them, why they are using them and their long-term health effects.

States have been taking a stance on regulations such as what age you have to be to buy e-cigs and where they can be used. For example, Kansas only allows adults 18 and older to purchase the device and there is no statewide ban; but restaurants, bars and gambling facilities are exempted from any regulation.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats up coils, then the liquid “juice” and is converted into a vapor form. They are relatively cheap; starter kits can range anywhere from $20 to $50, and liquid “juice” runs anywhere from $1 to $10 depending where you buy from. E-cig liquid is the most appealing part of the experience. There are flavors ranging from mint to give the illusion that you are smoking a menthol cigarette, to fruity flavors like strawberry and grape, to regular tobacco flavors and there are even flavors to taste like your favorite beverage like a piña colada or coffee. But the flavors and cheap prices are also appealing to the younger demographics.

Dr. Chen outlines three concerns that public health officials are facing with youth and e-cigs. “Adolescences’ brains are very sensitive to nicotine and since there are hundreds of flavors available that could easily make youth addicted to them.”

Chen also said the second concern comes from a recent study in Wales, children 10-11 years old who had used e-cigs expressed that they would want to try traditional cigarettes. The last concern is that once they try cigarettes, they will become addicted to them.

“In terms of research we know very little about e-cigs,” Chen says. “But we don’t know how children and adolescence are perceiving cigarettes. We know adults’ perceptions, but not youths yet.”

A literature review published in 2013 about electronic cigarettes and college students says that it might be because of the novelty of the product. “Sensation seeking is a personality trait resulting in the need for simulation, novel experiences and risk taking,” it says. Many times e-cigarettes come off as novelty with limited-edition flavors and packaging that entice users to want to buy the product since it might not be around much longer.

What we know about e-cigarettes is that they have helped people quit smoking. Many times former smokers find the need to keep their mouths and occupied stemming of the habit of smoking cigarettes. E-cigs help fill that void and are perceived as a better alternative. But e-cigs have not officially been recognized as a quitting device.

The new social experiment

To understand more about e-cigarettes for myself I went to The Vapors Edge E-Cig Shop at 1901 Mass St. The store is a local family owned and operated business by Robby Swonger. When I walked inside I saw two young girls and a guy hanging out in the store. One was working and the other two vaping and hanging out – none of them looking older than 18.

Swonger, a former nurse practitioner, smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of his life. He turned to e-cigs as a way to quit smoking and has never looked back. “I thought that if it worked for me, it could work for others,” he says.

But he does not encourage people to use it as an alternative to traditional cigarettes to nonsmokers since nicotine is still an addictive substance. He says that if a customer does not have a history with cigarettes, he will not sell them e-cigs.

“I do not encourage anyone who does not have a history of smoking to vape,” he says. “Why would you want to add that to your lungs?”

He says that main age range his store sees is 34-to-50 year olds who have quit smoking. Even though there are no studies supporting e-cigs as an official cigarette-quitting device, he does say that it has helped many, including himself, quit smoking. While the store may see a range of customers from 20 to 90, he says that he will not sell any products to anyone under 18. He doesn’t want to encourage anyone who is not smoking already to take up vaping.

Zack Lickteig, a sales associate at the store, says that he began smoking around the time he was 13, dipping by the time he was 15 and now at 19 has been tobacco free since he started vaping about a year ago.

He believes in the social influence that vaping has created. “It’s a very social thing, it’s like the hookah culture,” Lickteig says. “The vaping community has been rising and rising so much. There are vape clubs, conventions, lounges and it has been helping people quit.”

But he also believes that the price and the variety of flavors are also causing popularity amongst the younger consumers. Currently, the FDA has banned the use of flavors as marketing tools in many cities and counties across the Untied States since it might attract younger audiences and entices them to use the product.

Kyndra Willis hangs out in the store with Lickteig and another friend. At 18, Willis also says that she uses vaping to help her quit smoking. She started smoking cigarettes when she was 14 and vaping two years ago. She believes that people start vaping because of acceptance. “I think mostly for people around our age it’s mostly for popularity,” she says. “For most people it is, but for people like me, it’s to help stay calm and not smoke cigarettes.”

Willis says that when she gets stressed she will turn to vaping. It’s an easy way for her to just sit back, relax and have a few minutes to herself with her e-cig. She does not believe in the vaping for approval.

And neither does Swonger. He does not like the idea that people would use the product for popularity. “I would hate to see e-cigs labeled as a popularity thing,” he says. “If it turns out that way, that’s how we’re going to get the FDA involved.”

Vaping anywhere

All though vaping is allowed in restaurants, gambling facilities and bars, both Swonger and Lickteig believe that there is a level of respect that comes with it. Since the e-cig does not get hot enough to combust, the vapor has not shown any evidence of carcinogen being produced, making it as far as we know to be safe to breathe second hand.

But even though you can vape while enjoying a meal or a cocktail, that does not mean it is socially acceptable to pull out an e-cig and start vaping while you have a drink or eat your dinner. There is still the stigma that comes with smoking in public places. People have the image of cigarettes creating of clouds of smoke, filling the air with the thick smell that clings to your clothes and hair, believing it to also apply to e-cigs. But since e-cigs do not produce smoke, and the vapor flavors may create a subtle scent, it does not produce a smoke cloud or a foul smell.

Swonger says that vapers should be reverent when vaping in public spaces. “It’s not a cigarette and it does not have any smoke or carcinogens,” he says. “But I don’t vape in restaurants or on planes. It’s just a respect thing and we all need to respect each other.

The future of e-cigarettes

Swonger says that he says does not want vaping to be taken as a fad and it still be taken seriously and should only be used by people who have a history smoking.

Swonger says that if it does become a certified nicotine replacement device it would become a pharmaceutical tool then, which is what the vaping industry is trying to avoid because the FDA would then become involved.

Currently, the FDA does not regulate cigars, pipe tobacco, gels and wastepipe tobacco, but that might all soon change. The FDA has talked about extending the deeming period, which started April 2014, to get more time to understand the product.

Chen also says that more research needs to be done in order to determine how harmful e-cigarettes actually are. She says that if people are able to see how the youth perceive the culture of these products, it could help us understand how it could effect nicotine addiction in adolescents.

For right now all anyone can do is wait to see if further research can determine whether or not e-cigs are just as harmful as cigarettes or if they could actually be good nicotine replacement tools.

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Dark Ages: Dealing with Depression as a Millennial

3.29.2015

By Austin Fisher

On a cold January night during my sophomore year at the University of Kansas, I’m lying awake in the pitch black of my bedroom at my father’s house in Lawrence. I should be asleep but I can’t stop worrying about school, money and family issues. After hours of thinking about how hopeless life seems, my legs tangled in my sheets and my mind as active as the moment I had lain down, a thought passes through me.

“Do I have enough money in my bank account to buy a gun?”

I was disturbed by the thought because I didn’t need to articulate those that would follow. I immediately knew what I was doing; I was considering suicide. Feeling trapped alone in the darkness, I woke up my dad, told him what was happening, and we agreed that I needed to seek help.

For a year and a half leading up to that night, I had been feeling what I now understand to be symptoms of depression. I am one of over 30 percent of college students who have felt so depressed in the last year that it was difficult to function. I can tell you this story because depression no longer has a stigma attached to it, which was an obstacle to me in seeking help.

Feeling sad or alone and need help? There are many resources available to you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-8255
suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Headquarters Douglas County Crisis Line:
785-841-2345
headquarterscounselingcenter.org

KU Counseling and Psychological Services (for students):
785-864-2277
caps.ku.edu

“It’s no more anybody’s fault that they have depression than if they had diabetes or other physiological issues,” says Sara Barnes, who has been practicing family counseling for 17 years. “I think that there’s been a big change in the last 10 years.” She says people—especially younger generations—are more open to talk about depression. Studies show that while most college students try deal with stress themselves, 90 percent don’t see anything wrong with seeking help. Most delay seeking clinical treatment because they feel the stress they’re experiencing is normal, they feel they could handle it on their own or with help from friends and family.

However, sometimes depression itself can prevent one from sharing their feelings. “I consider my academics to be a really big part of my identity,” says Calvert Pfannenstiel, who was diagnosed with dysthymia, a mild but chronic form of depression, along with seasonal affective disorder in June. In 2012, returning to the U.S. from a liberating summer internship in Switzerland, Pfannenstiel’s grades were floundering as he had difficulty readjusting to normal life and “the disheartening dynamics of my family,” referring to his parents’ divorce. That winter he became more reclusive, stopped going to class, slept too much and was hiding it all from professors, friends and family because he felt embarrassed about not succeeding in school. Depressive feelings that were present before the internship became amplified by a return to reality. After he opened up to his girlfriend Kayla DuBois and others close to him, he briefly entered the KU Counseling and Psychological Services program before switching to a private therapist, from whom he learned about lifestyle changes like exercise, disciplined sleep and exposure to sunlight. He also started taking 150 mg of bupropion and krill oil supplements, which contain fatty acids that help regulate his mood and prevent him from slipping into a depressive mind set.

“The difference is surprisingly noticeable when I don’t take it for a day,” he says.

Pfannenstiel admits that at one point DuBois was his sole source of happiness and pride. They have helped each other through rough patches since they met two years ago. “Calvert is one of the only people that’s never made me feel like I’m broken,” she says. Since childhood DuBois has felt depressive symptoms, but she assumed her problems weren’t worth bringing up. Her family didn’t validate her feelings and told her not to share her depression. She started seeing a therapist in November 2012, but stopped after ten months. Talk therapy isn’t for her. “Sometimes they’ll grab something that you say and go off on this tangent that wasn’t what you were getting at.” In January she moved to Austin, Texas, where her brother Ryan gave her a room of her own and got her into yoga and group anxiety therapy where she learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Caring for her infant nephew, Archer, was deeply therapeutic. “I would look at him and he had all this faith in me that I didn’t have in myself.”

There are many types of depression, and they can increase a person’s risk of having other disorders. “A physician could look at someone recently diagnosed with diabetes and say it was caused by their earlier depression, but it could also be that both were caused by something in the background,” says Dr. William Eaton, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Background causes of co-occurring disorders could include genes or childhood trauma. Eaton says the risk for depressive disorder peaks between 25 and 30 years of age for women, and 30 to 35 years for men. “Anxiety and depressive disorders are very much comorbid,” he says, meaning they tend to occur together. Pfannenstiel still experiences dysthymia and seasonal affective disorder, DuBois also suffers from fibromyalgia and panic attacks, while I have major depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is typically a period of intense sadness and lack of motivation that lasts at least two weeks. Either way, talk or group therapy can help. Drugs can too, like with Pfannenstiel, but I chose to avoid them.

My introverted personality led me to stigmatize my own mental illness. Like DuBois, in the depths of my depression, I felt like my internal problems didn’t deserve to be expressed to the outside world, and sharing them would just burden others. This contributed to a mental isolation. I would be sitting next to an old friend but feel a nonexistent tension, like the space between us was filled with heat and static. At parties I would sit alone or never join conversations. But my friends and family were supportive when I started opening up. Many were surprised to hear that I was depressed; they told me I hadn’t shown any signs. I still struggle with why I stayed silent for so long. In 2007 only a quarter of adults with symptoms of mental illness believed that people were supportive while over half of all adults believed that people were supportive. Perhaps the stigma felt worse to me than it actually was.

Unable to tell anyone but my dad about my feelings, I went to the KU Psychological Clinic and started seeing a therapist, Katie. Initially I reported feelings of depression, loneliness, and infrequent, passive thoughts of suicide. Through therapy I would begin to understand why I was feeling this way.

SorryISpilledYourCoffee

Kayla DuBois made the above piece of art, called “Sorry I Spilled Your Coffee,” during her junior year of high school in 2009. There are about 200 different paintings underneath what you can see on the surface. While the original intent of the piece was different, DuBois says the process of making it was therapeutic for working through the events of an abusive relationship. The piece won a silver medal at the National Scholastic Arts Competition.

Part of the problem was I was still reflecting on the end of a three-month long relationship, over a year later. Ruminating on that and subsequent rejections led me to question my self-worth. Paradoxically I was both afraid of being close to someone again and of being alone forever. I wanted to forget the relationship, but I couldn’t move on. I also felt guilty for being so far away from my mother in Boston, who was unhappy with her job and begging me to come help her. I started questioning my worth as a son. By talking with Katie once a week, I would learn that I was obsessed with the past, unable to deal with the present, and unconcerned about the future. She found that I had increased emotional sensitivity, self-doubt, feelings of worthlessness, indecisiveness and a tendency to lose pleasure in things I once enjoyed. I had a general feeling of emptiness and lack of purpose. My grades had fallen, and I was questioning the entire prospect of being a writer. Before that hopeless night in my bedroom, my family dynamics, grades and sex life made me hate myself.

My therapy focused on changing my thoughts, attitudes and habits. I learned to recognize feelings of sadness or anger and to question these feelings, which forced me to consider how much control I have over them. Now I can recognize when I’m thinking in a depressive pattern, and try to get myself out of it. Getting enough sleep and exercising are now central to my well-being. Studies show that physical exercise does have an antidepressant effect for people suffering from mild to moderate depression. At Katie’s suggestion, I started running once a week, which became four times a week. This new habit, along with my own experiments with mindfulness meditation, made me healthier and improved my self-esteem.

For others, formal therapy just doesn’t work. Elliot Yochim has had clinical depression and bipolar disorder since the summer before he started college in 2011, when he also experienced a breakup. After having an emotional breakdown last year and losing interest in school, Elliot entered therapy for about a half a year until he felt like he wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore. “It was like talking to a wall. I didn’t get anything back except my own voice,” he says. For two months he was on antidepressants but they didn’t really help. Instead, he runs, writes, plays music and applies himself to his new major in theater design. “Having your life consumed by something you love is way better than just doing it on the weekends and between bathroom breaks.”

For anyone considering suicide, the causes are numerous and complicated. Unfortunately, people assume those considering suicide have reached that point because of character flaws. “The stigma about suicide is that this person is deeply troubled individually, and we often accredit all of that to their individual character rather than considering what’s going on around them,” says Jared Auten, a volunteer counselor for Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence. Auten works on a crisis line for Headquarters, where people can call if they feel depressed or are considering suicide. He gives callers a safe space to talk through problems and have their feelings validated and not judged. He joined Headquarters in the spring of 2013 both for the counseling experience and as a form of therapy and personal understanding. He lost his dad to suicide in 2006. He says he did experience grief, but not depression.

Like anyone else I have good days and bad, but now I know how to deal with the bad and appreciate the good. I no longer blame myself for everything that I don’t like about my life, and I see that people will support me. Overcoming depression is different for everyone, but the first step is the same: telling someone how you feel.

 

Edited by Erika Reals

Focusing On Nothing: First Steps To Meditation

12.11.2014

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By Austin Fisher

Sitting in the Kansas Zen Center in Lawrence, I try not to fidget. Six others have joined me in the dharma hall of the Center to meditate. We begin with vows and chants. No one speaks. Chalres Vitale, the abbot of the Center and leader of today’s practice, signals us to start and stop meditating by striking his hand with a wooden rod. The point of this focused-attention method is to let thoughts come and go. I count my breaths from one to 10 repeatedly and focus on the air entering and exiting my lungs and my body on the cushion. We sit in meditation for 25 minutes. We get up and walk single file around the zafus, black meditation cushions, arrayed in a square on the hardwood floor for 10 minutes. We sit again for another, much harder, 25 minutes.

This was my first try at group meditation. I had started on my own earlier that week, guided by a meditation app called Headspace. I don’t consider myself religious but I see value in traditional forms of self-contemplation, and I feel calm and a sense of relief every time I meditate. I’ve also been sleeping better since I started. The three types of meditation—focused-attention, mindfulness, and compassion—require no workout equipment or clothing. Meditation requires practice, but it can have enormous benefits. Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and many others suggest that meditation can help with depression, chronic pain, and general well-being. Compared to novice meditators, the brains of those with many hours of practice go through physical changes in parts of the brain associated with attention, pain, anxiety, compassion, and positive emotion through a process called neuroplasticity. But you can start to feel the effects in four to six weeks.

As I sit, thoughts of school, food, life, and how I’m going to write this come and go. Squirrels crawl on the roof above; leaves fall from the tree outside. A motorcycle tears through the neighborhood, its disruptive roar eventually fading away. Meditation practice is about examining thoughts and feelings without judgment.

“When you’re sitting in traffic, standing in line, or you’re late for class, you can either be aggravated, or you can use the time to tune in to your body,” says Sara Brenner, a psychiatric social worker from Massachusetts and former Harvard lecturer who meditates daily.

Meditation gives her the emotional space needed to respond more thoughtfully to events in her life. I got interested in meditation as a way of relieving stress from college.

“It can be amazingly helpful to have this mental place inside of yourself where you know you can drop into anytime and get some relief from the stress that you’re feeling from the outside world,” says Meghan Searl, a neuropsychologist at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts who is interested in how mindfulness and meditation can improve health, cognition, and even relationships. “You can pay attention better, and it can make you a better listener. It can make you more attentive to what’s happening with another person.”

Anyone can start meditation, but like my Zen experience it can be difficult at first.

“In the beginning, people can hardly hold themselves to keeping their eyes closed for five minutes because there are lots of thoughts coming into the mind,” says Krishna Ghimire, who is currently studying for a master’s in civil engineering at KU.

Ghimire is president of the KU branch of the Art of Living Foundation, a humanitarian organization associated with the United Nations. He has been meditating daily for three and a half years, and at this point he feels time move faster when he meditates. After doing some yoga postures in the morning he sits for 20 minutes, and again in the evening after class. He says meditation is a better way to get energized than napping because it doesn’t affect his sleep schedule.

The form of sitting meditation Ghimire practices has three main points. The first is to want nothing. The mind is constantly bombarded by desires, and seeks things from the outside world. You must fool your mind into giving them up. The second is more simple: Feel free to do nothing while you sit. The third is harder: You must be nothing; you have to give up your individual identity.

“You’re neither a student, nor a brother, sister, boyfriend. Just drop your identity. Letting go is the main principle,” he says.

While meditating, Ghimire experiences a state of mind that he can’t express through words. Sincere commitment and a gradual increase in practice time can make one habituated to dealing with busy, stressful situations. He recommends sitting in the same place at the same time each day, regularly. When he skips a day he just doesn’t feel right, like someone having nicotine withdrawal. You can’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have time to meditate; the best times for it are the busiest moments of your life.

“To make yourself capable of doing many things in a short period of time, you need meditation,” Ghimire said. “That’s why it’s there.”

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Photo by Austin Fisher

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